Glouces­ter Wildlife Trust ex­plores the wild side of Durs­ley

Spring is on its way and one town that’s wak­ing up to the dawn cho­rus is his­toric and wildlife-rich Durs­ley, as Sue Bradley dis­cov­ers

Cotswold Life - - EDITOR’S COMMENT -

It’s a lit­tle-known fact that no­body liv­ing in Durs­ley is fur­ther than 670 me­tres from the edge of wood­land. This means that folks who call this his­toric mar­ket town home are col­lec­tively that much closer to wildlife than those liv­ing in al­most every other com­mu­nity in the Cotswolds.

In Durs­ley it’s not un­usual to see greater spot­ted wood­peck­ers on bird feed­ers and en­counter bad­gers cross­ing lawns, and it’s even pos­si­ble that dormice ven­ture across the branches of gar­den trees as they move be­tween the wood­land cor­ri­dor that fringes the western bor­der of the town be­fore stretch­ing along the steep Cotswold scarp slope to­wards Uley and then Stroud.

Ar­eas of rough grass­land be­tween the trees and town are home to a va­ri­ety of mam­mals, birds and rep­tiles and, be­ing east-fac­ing, are warm enough for rep­tiles such as slow worms and great crested newts.

Mean­while the River Ewelme, which flows along the east­ern edge of Durs­ley and, in a cul­verted state, un­der the town to Cam, from which point it’s known as the River Cam, is lined with trees and hedgerows for much of its length, which of­fers habi­tats to a num­ber of species, in­clud­ing bats.

A short walk is all it takes to leave be­hind Durs­ley’s shops and of­fices and stroll un­der the canopies of trees, such as Twin­ber­row Woods with its sculp­ture and play trails.

Many of the wood­land ar­eas have been around for so long that they’re mostly an­cient semi-nat­u­ral ar­eas, with some small plan­ta­tions of conifers. Stretches of trees are also found around the Lit­tle­combe val­ley


The St Mark’s fly takes its name from its preva­lence around the time of St Mark’s Day on April 25. This long and shiny fly can of­ten be seen hang­ing over plants, its legs dan­gling be­neath it.

once oc­cu­pied by the Lis­ter Pet­ter en­gine fac­tory, plans for the re­de­vel­op­ment of which in­clude a fair amount of green spa­ces.

Those in search of strik­ing views can ven­ture to­wards St­inch­combe Hill, from which it’s pos­si­ble to gaze upon the River Sev­ern, or lofty spots such as Cam Peak or Cam Long­down, the lat­ter the site of a dis­used quarry that’s be­ing grad­u­ally re­claimed by na­ture.

The Cotswold Way, the 100mile walk­ing route stretch­ing be­tween Bath and Chip­ping Cam­p­den, passes through Durs­ley, while those look­ing for a shorter saunter can opt for the Lantern Way, a cir­cu­lar trail that takes in nearby Uley and Coa­ley.

Close to Durs­ley is the world­fa­mous Wild­fowl and Wet­lands Trust at Slim­bridge, and the town is just a few miles from Lower Woods na­ture re­serve - one of the largest an­cient wood­lands in the south-west of Eng­land, it is man­aged by Glouces­ter­shire Wildlife Trust.

Pop­u­lar lo­cal leg­end has it that Wil­liam Shake­speare lived in the area for a pe­riod, pos­si­bly af­ter an episode of deer steal­ing in War­wick­shire, and he demon­strates his knowl­edge of the sur­round­ings with a ref­er­ence to Berke­ley Cas­tle, as if viewed from above Durs­ley, along with a de­scrip­tion of area’s ‘high wild hills and rough un­even ways’.

Com­mon dog vi­o­let

A car­pet of Lesser celandines (Ra­nun­cu­lus fi­caria) on a road­side verge.

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